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Griz open play in Tacoma

03 Dec 2021 | 06:56 | Golf

The Montana women’s golf team shot rounds of 320 and 317 on Monday as the Pat Lesser Harbottle Invitational got under way at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Tacoma, Wash.

The Grizzlies are tied for 18th out of 20 teams with a final 18 holes to be played on Tuesday.

“We definitely didn’t play our best. It’s a lot harder golf course than we’re used to playing,” said assistant coach Jim Mee, who took five Grizzlies to Washington.

“It took a little while for us to adjust to really having to place shots in certain areas. One shot and you can really be scrambling. You really have to be in control of your golf ball.”

Montana had just three of its 10 rounds on Monday in the 70s, with Jessica Ponce shooting a 76 over the opening 18 holes, Madison Cecil a 76 and Kylie Esh a 79 in the second round.

Cecil, a transfer from Murray State, hadn’t carded a score better than 81 through her first three tournaments as a Grizzly and entered the tournament with a fall scoring average of 84.5.

In Monday’s second 18, Cecil birdied her second hole, the par-3 17th, and didn’t have anything worse than bogey over the last 16 holes. She posted par on 11 of 12 holes during one stretch.

“She just grinded,” said Mee. “She missed it in the right spot when she was out of position, then got up and down and made her five-to-10 footers to save par and keep the momentum going.

“She knew it was going to be a hard course and that things weren’t going to be easy. She knew she was going to have to work to get her pars, and she did a really good job of that.”

Ponce (76-80) is tied for 57th, Esh (82-79) is tied for 82nd, Meredith Boos (80-82) and Cecil (86-76) are tied for 89th, and Emmy Sundby (82-83) is tied for 101st.

Seattle’s Rivekka Jumagulova shot rounds of 70 and 73 and holds the 36-hole lead. She’ll have six players within three strokes of her when Tuesday’s final round opens.

Seattle (287-295) holds the team lead by nine strokes over Santa Clara (297-294), 12 over Utah Valley (294-300).

“Hopefully everybody can play a little better than they did today,” said Mee.

“If we can get somebody right around par, then a couple scores in the mid-70s range, we should be able to make a move up the leaderboard.”